Issue of April 14, 2019
     
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OPINION
 

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2


Probability

 
Mathematics is not my favorite subject. It is my waterloo. I have a hard time understanding and applying the formulas in solving mathematical problems.

In school, most students are weak in Mathematics. As a matter of fact, in the Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018, the Philippines ranked 16th out of 137 countries for quality of Math education.

Based also on the submitted grade sheets from teachers, I noticed that many students earned poor and failing grades in Mathematics compared to other subject areas.

The common factors of students’ poor performance in Mathematics are boredom and having difficulties in solving mathematical problems. This is according to researches or studies.

After many years of disliking Mathematics, I came to the point of appreciating it. During a classroom observation, the teacher’s topic is about probability. He explained its definition. It is a branch of Mathematics that deals with uncertainty.

What amazed me was when he related the topic with real life situations. “Probability will give us chance, hope, motivation and guidance. Hence, everybody should be assertive to do things. One must be determined because there is a tendency that he will succeed, “the teacher uttered.

I am a product of a poor family. However, it did not hinder me to dream big. The probability that I can be something out of nothing was the key of my success. I study hard despite our poverty. After 14 years of struggles and determination, the possibility became a reality. The Mathematics teacher is right. Probability brought me hope and encouragement. We should bear in mind that nothing is impossible because there are always chances in life.

In Mathematics, solving problems is a routine activity. The best way to arrive into the right answer of a problem is to apply the formula appropriately. However, the probability of giving the wrong answer is very high. We can be wrong in the first attempt until we will discover the incorrect moves we applied. The same way in resolving our personal problems, we are often committing wrong actions. At any rate, enlightenment will always come at the end. Thus, we will be able to overcome our difficulties correctly.

Probability should be regarded as a special ingredient for a successful life. It is our guiding star to act and work to fulfill our dreams and aspirations.

Hence, Mathematics teachers must know how to make the subject interesting to students. Just like the teacher I observed, he motivated his learners by integrating probability with actual or practical circumstances. Actually, relating real-life situations to the lessons is a very effective strategy according to researchers. This can catch the attention of students. More importantly, they will be able to connect the importance of the lessons in their life.

Moreover, mentors should let the learners feel that Mathematics is not just a subject that deals with numbers only. It brings us hope that every problem has a built-in solution. Mathematics can help us also in dividing sorrow, subtracting sadness, adding happiness and multiplying love and forgiveness.
 

2


The importance of a well-timed break

 
There are few things in life as powerful an antidote as a well-timed break. Save for a bowl of pinikpikan in times of homesickness – or a month or two of immaculate, insomnia-free sleep – a well-timed break ranks just as high on the potency meter. In a dragging song, a break can cut through the monotony and exemplify the next section, pulling the listener in deeper before dropping a melodic hook so heavy, Tom Petty would shed tears. In a long movie, it could heighten dramatic tension, and lay on an element of suspense so thick, even the most hardcore of social media addicts would drop their phones in anticipation of the next scene.

And in life, it could mean the difference between burning out in a fire of disappointment, rage-quitting on dreams – or finding salvation and the second wind to propel sails toward the promised land.

As easy as it is to say the word itself, breaks are hard to pull off – and even harder to believe they are necessary at all. Like how a machine left to run will keep doing a task until it literally breaks, the mind and body can lose itself in routine and tedium before it finally crashes in a heap of broken spirits. The body is a machine after all, or so all grade-school Science teachers say. And in today's supercharged, hyper-connected existence, that machine is oftentimes left on auto-pilot without the user knowing, trapping itself in noxious habits, and self-inflicted vicious cycles with no inkling to press the “pause” button because doing so would mean weakness – or so it has been trained to tell itself.

Only perhaps in the most desperate of hours will it finally seek for the button, hidden beneath mounds of unmet expectations, terrible sleeping habits, and unhealthy food choices. With a half-hearted press, the fear that it has surrendered to exhaustion and disappointment is real.

But a well-timed break is far from a sign of frailty.

Rather, it is a hard, Famas-award worthy slap across the face that jolts the user back into reality and into the driver's seat. It is the kick and kedsang of a perfectly preserved batch of tapey meeting the tongue and charging into the bloodstream, waking the vessels in the brain into refocusing and into taking charge once more. It is the antidote that brings a soul back to life, as close as anything the world has to a resurrection stone.

No longer does the mind and body feel as though it is a victim of circumstance, or a sad actor in a tragic play. With newfound composure, it uses the break and corrects course, the earlier bleakness now a fading view in its rear view mirror.

These past few months have been my well-timed break.

May we all find our way.
 

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